Education boss sent sardines to highlight school overcrowding fears

PROTESTING parents are sending dozens of tins of sardines to the city's education leader, Marilyne MacLaren – to highlight their fears about overcrowded schools.

They are concerned that plans to close four primaries will lead to packed classrooms in the schools their children will have to attend.

They hope the gimmick will help gather support for their argument against the closures.

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The council's plans would see children from four closure-threatened schools sent to seven others.

Pupils from Fort would go to Trinity, pupils from Royston to either Granton or Forthview, children from Drumbrae to Clermiston or East Craigs and pupils from Burdiehouse to Gracemount or Gilmerton.

Parents at the schools facing closure and those which would receive an influx of new pupils fear the proposals will lead to larger classes and overcrowding.

But the council says it has no choice but to close schools because they have low school rolls and there are 8,600 spare primary places across the Capital which the city cannot afford to maintain. The campaigners, however, dispute the council's figures.

Karen Keil, a member of the Save Drumbrae campaign group, said: "One of our fights for all the schools is the capacity figures because the figures the council is using don't match up.

"Their entire policy is based on having class sizes of 33 children, which goes against the national policy. That's where they get their 8,000 spare places figure.

"We want to show the education department and Marilyne MacLaren that children are not sardines and deserve better than to be pushed together into huge class sizes.

"We want to get the message across that what they are expecting of our children is not acceptable.

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"It's a token gesture, a gimmick, but we have to try everything."

Campaigners fighting to keep Fort Primary open are working in partnership with Trinity Primary, the proposed receiving school.

Trinity's parent council has already warned that sending the pupils from Fort there would lead to it becoming one of the city's most overcrowded schools.

Vikki Spence, of the Fighting for Fort campaign group, said: "Using the sardines was actually one of the first things that came into my mind when thinking about how overcrowded it's going to be.

"We just wanted to highlight that if the closure goes ahead, it's going to be a real crush.

"This is very much going back about three or four generations in terms of education."

The public consultation into the proposed closures is currently under way. The first of the public meetings will be held tomorrow night at Drumbrae Primary School.

School campaigners are also set to give a deputation to councillors at an education committee meeting tomorrow morning.

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A council spokesman added: "These schools were selected for the consultation through a process to identify under-occupied schools.

"We must be sure all our schools are well equipped, well staffed and offer the best value for money."